Previous slide
Next slide

Experience conscious, inclusive, luxury vacations with IncluCare

A man in a light grey suit and glasses is smiling and posing with his arms crossed. He stands inside a high-rise building with a panoramic view of a city with prominent river bends and bridges through large windows behind him, suggesting an urban skyline. It's a sunny day, and the room is filled with natural light.

Richard Thompson, CEO

Listen to this Article


 

Accessibility and inclusivity should transcend the physical environment, prioritizing the guest experience above all else.

“That’s the reason we created Inclu; an ecosystem of services and solutions to transform the landscape of possibilities for the organizations of luxury hospitality, travel and lifestyle and, crucially, the millions of disabled people across the globe with aspiration, ambition and resources to travel in style and experience the world, but are currently denied the opportunity to do so.”

Step into the world of Richard Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Inclu, a luxury company that champions inclusivity across the travel industry. He believes all stakeholders, including hospitality, destination management companies and independent travel consultants should be educated to facilitate accessible and inclusive travel experiences, for all. 

Richard has amassed a wealth of knowledge through more than forty years of involvement in the travel and hospitality sectors. His initial experience was gained working for a U.K.-based tour operator which pioneered holidays tailored for young individuals. He later ventured into various sectors from operating ski businesses to running his own restaurants and entertainment establishments in Greece. A life-altering accident in France left him with an incomplete spinal cord injury, leading to a year-long hospitalization and years of physical and psychological adjustment. Sufficiently ‘rehabilitated’, Richard set his sights on examining how the travel industry was servicing the ambitions of would-be travellers with physical, sensory and neurodivergent exceptionalities. Shocked by the limited travel choices available—either with specialized disability services or through charity programs—he resolved to address the lack of travel options for individuals with disabilities. 

He identified an opportunity to bring innovative ideas into the industry and in 1997, founded Accessible Travel, a tour operator aimed at shifting the focus from disability to accessibility. The company grew from humble beginnings into the world’s largest specialist in accessible travel. They offered a comprehensive range of experiences, spanning long-haul adventures to luxurious city breaks, with accessibility integrated into every itinerary. Richard stated, “Our approach ensured that every travel experience we facilitated incorporated elements of accessibility, yet we never grouped people solely based on their disabilities.” Accessible Travel prioritized destinations and dreams, ensuring that everyone, regardless of ability, could enjoy enriching travel experiences. 

Although they enjoyed immense success, Richard said, “Over time, it became evident that the specialist model did not work, so, we offloaded this model after seven years. If you look around the world, most of the travel specialists of that era have disappeared. Very few have been able to scale to anything meaningful.” He believes this model has become ineffective because travellers do not want to be marketed to as disabled people—they just want to travel to wherever they want to go and book with any tour operator they choose to travel with. 

Transitioning away from the specialist model, Richard and his team pivoted the focus once again, this time from accessibility to inclusivity and with that, “we also moved unashamedly into the luxury space with Inclu,” he stated. “Why? Quite simply because this is the sector with the least distance to travel to establish guest-inclusivity excellence and set best-practices for the rest of the industry to aspire to. Lessons learned will inevitably cascade down.  They were never going to cascade up!”

So in the Inclu stable of services, two are critical to meaningful change – the full-service luxury tailor-made bespoke travel operator, IncluPrivé, and the worlds only Verification of Guest-Inclusivity excellence – IncluCare.

A woman with long, light brown hair and a healthy tan is smiling at the camera. She has striking blue eyes and is wearing a sleeveless navy blue and white patterned dress with a plunging neckline featuring a black detail. Her arms are crossed in front of her, and one hand is adorned with a large green ring. The background is plain black, emphasizing her and the bright colors of her outfit.

 Alison Pearson, head of up Inclu travel operations

Richard explains, “At IncluPrivé, our concierge team of luxury inclusive travel experts never know what the next caller will be looking for, but we know we’ll always say yes, because experience has taught us what is possible. And of course we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to indulge in luxury travel. But what exactly constitutes luxury travel?” According to Richard and his team, this is not defined by the price tag but rather the quality of the experience. This could mean a journey across the Sahara Desert, arriving at an eco-lodge in Costa Rica by kayak, or even sleeping beneath the stars in the desert. Alternatively, it might involve a stay at a lavish resort favoured by billionaires. Regardless of one’s chosen definition, a vastly enhanced guest experience should be the result. “We’ve had clients fully ventilated on safaris in Africa, quadriplegics at the top of Machu Picchu and the bottom of the Indian Ocean, clients without sight, without speech in India and Australia. The only limit is a client’s imagination! And for them, simply having choices and options to experience the world with equity, is a luxury in itself. As is the opportunity to deviate from one’s typical day-to-day routine.”

In contrast to IncluPrivé, which exists to turn travel dreams into travel reality for consumers, IncluCare is very much for the trade. According to Richard, in order to remove the barriers that exclude the world’s 1.5 billion disabled people from authentically inclusive travel, the entire global infrastructure of travel and tourism needs guidance, education and support in understanding what constitutes accessibility and inclusivity, and most importantly, the strategies and tools to deliver them.  

So IncluCare has established best practices for this and is actively educating within the luxury space, aiming to elevate every guest experience irrespective of exceptionality or budget.  With a team of consultants and IncluCare Ambassadors across every continent, they are dedicated to inspiring, connecting, empowering and supporting luxury travel, hospitality and lifestyle providers while steadfastly ensuring clients enjoy a quality experience.

Resorts that have participated in IncluCare’s program are seeing significant return on investment including global recognition and awards, dramatic shift in attitudes, engagement and morale of their staff as it relates to accessibility and inclusivity. Staff are coming up with ideas themselves of how they can creatively welcome and delight people with different kinds of conditions and personalized requirements. Resort managers have also shared that disabled guests express joy about their stay at a level that they do not see from other guests. Some have said they are finally living their dream which they had given up on, others say they do not feel that they are a burden to the staff during their stay. They feel genuinely cared for, which is evidence that IncluCare’s education program results in a hospitality team that cares authentically about ensuring every guest has the best experience. 

Go to www.worldofinclu.com to learn more. 

A split-view image showing the sunny, clear sky above and the crystal-clear blue ocean below. On the boat deck, a person with a disability wearing snorkeling gear and a red life vest sits on the edge, ready to enter the water. Another person stands behind the helm, steering the boat. A third individual appears to be preparing for the water activity. The underwater part of the boat is visible, with the sea floor beneath, hinting at the clarity and shallowness of the water.

 Inclusive Amilla Maldives 

Scroll to Top
Checking...